In considering new rulemaking for the debt collection industry, the CFPB has decided to turn directly to consumers for input.  As set forth in the notice issued March 6, 2014, the CFPB plans to send out a survey in order to learn more about consumers' interactions with debt collection agencies.

In its current draft, the 20-minute survey contains 77 questions which inquire about a range of topics including various consumer experiences with debt collectors, preferences regarding debt collection methods and general understanding of current debt collection laws.  As set forth in a more detailed explanation, “[t]he CFPB is particularly interested in the accuracy of the information used by debt collectors, ensuring that consumers know their rights, and the communications tactics employed by debt collectors.”

The CFPB currently plans to send the survey to 10,000 consumers and expects a 34 percent response rate.  While some questions in the survey are fairly general (i.e. “Have you applied for any type of credit or loan in the last five years?”), others are much more detailed, (i.e. “Consumers may not always be aware of the laws about debts and of their options, for example, to dispute a debt. How familiar would you say you are about each of the following…[w]hen a consumer can request a debt collector stop contacting the consumer…[w]hen a debt collector can sue a consumer…[w]hen a co-signer on a loan is legally responsible for repaying it”). 

Again, this version of the survey is only a draft, and the CFPB has invited comments on the proposed survey in hopes of acquiring additional input. The 60-day comment period ends on May 6, 2014.  In particular, the CFPB is soliciting comments that would help it understand whether the collection of the information currently requested in the survey would be useful for the purposes of future rulemaking, whether the survey questions can be enhanced and whether the current survey process will be accurate and efficient.

The issuing of the survey, collection of responses and subsequent analysis should take approximately 6-8 months.  As such, any new rulemaking from the CFPB on debt collection may not be seen until closer to 2015.